Last year I stood with a group of former missionaries at the foot of Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado mountain above the troubled city of Rio de Janeiro as we sang “Hosanna, hosanna to God and the lamb!” in a familiar hymn. The massive art deco statue, covered in tiny soapstone tiles, was erected in 1931 from a fortunate collaboration between the city and the Catholic Church, becoming an icon of Brazil and a symbol of Christianity recognized worldwide.
I love that the statue depicts the resurrected Christ, arms outstretched with the nail marks of atonement still in his hands, just as was witnessed by his disciples after he came forth from the tomb that first Easter morning, having broken the bands of death. Because he lives, so shall we.
Ours is a heaven blessed country whose motto is “In God We Trust” and whose national anthem pleads, “may the heav'n rescued land praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!” At this Easter season, let’s remember that God with deep appreciation.
In a proclamation to the world, “The living Christ, the testimony of the Apostles,” at the beginning of the present century, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, offered their testimonies “of the reality of his matchless life and the infinite virtue of his great atoning sacrifice.” I would like to share some of their proclamation.
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The Bible’s gospel accounts tell of Christ’s humble birth, his selfless life of service and his gospel message of peace and goodwill. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. “He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentence to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave his life to atone for the sins of all mankind.”
The Apostles witness continues, “We solemnly testify that his life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the firstborn of the Father, the only begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world. He rose from the grave to ‘become the firstfruits of them that slept’ (1 Corinthians 15:20). As risen Lord, he visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among his ‘other sheep’ (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, he and his Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised ‘dispensation of the fulness of times’ (Ephesians 1:10).”
In 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon declared, “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God, and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the only begotten of the Father.”
And so today I can stand at the base of Christ the Redeemer statue and sing “Hosanna, hosanna to God and the lamb!” in thankful praise to the living Christ who has restored his church upon the earth, once again “built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).
April 1 is Easter Sunday, sacred to all Christians. On Saturday and Sunday of Easter weekend, BYUtv (channel 232 on my TV) will broadcast morning and afternoon sessions of LDS General Conference from Salt Lake City with talks by church leaders and music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Tune in there or stream from LDS.org to hear the inspiring messages and testimonies of modern apostles and prophets.
For those who have gained a personal witness of what Christ has done for mankind and what he is doing today, every day is a joyful Easter celebration.